NBA star says goodbye to the glitz and glam of South BeachKeith Allison
Four years ago, the best basketball player on Earth made a decision.
It was a decision that players across all professional sports often make, but this was different. LeBron James chose to throw away the comfort of his home to compete for championships with the Miami Heat.
James was born, raised, and became a legend in Northeastern Ohio. Akron and Cleveland were in his blood, but he had to move on. Two wins in four consecutive trips to the NBA finals with the Heat was enough; once again, he had a decision to make.
If home is truly where the heart is, then James is following his heart. While he was on top of the world in South Beach, the Cavaliers were in reconstruction. The NBA draft lottery balls rolled in their favor an astonishing three out of four years, awarding them the number one overall pick in 2011, 2013, and 2014. These picks became all-star point guard Kyrie Irving, work-in-progress Anthony Bennett, and young phenom Andrew Wiggins, who has been put forth as the best young prospect since James himself.
James made the decision that many never saw coming, but made so much sense: he joined a young and highly talented core as a seasoned veteran with a valuable championship pedigree. James can erase the hatred that bubbled up for him at home and potentially bring the Cavs their first championship in more than 40 years.
Even Gee-Gees basketball players are excited about LeBron’s move. Gees guard and third-year economics student Mehdi Tihani says he loves the fact that LeBron is going back.
“It helps his legacy in the sense that he wants to bring his hometown team a championship,” says Tihani. “It’s a great thing for the NBA — a lot of attention will be on a small market team which is good for the NBA in general.”
In an article for Sports Illustrated, James compared his time in Miami to what it’s like to go to college — something he never experienced. Four years of maturing in a new environment moulded him into the player he is today.
While James is going to start a new chapter in a better situation, Miami is left to pick up the pieces of what used to be the best team in the NBA. Dwyane Wade’s knees are failing him, and with a new contract, Chris Bosh can only do so much when he is arguably alone throughout the regular season. This Heat team is starting to look a little like the mid-2000s Toronto Raptors. They can still fight in the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but it isn’t likely you’ll see the consecutive streak of finals appearances continue this coming season.
Big moves do not come without a heap of speculation. The hottest topic of conversation has been the Cavs giving away fellow Toronto natives and first overall picks Bennett and Wiggins. The key asset that the Cavs got in return is all-star power forward Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, a top-10 player in the league that would all but ensure the championship for the Cavaliers.
“Love and LeBron are the perfect match on paper,” Tihani says. “Love spaces the floor for LeBron and Kyrie. As for Wiggins, I’m glad he gets to stay away from LeBron for now. It didn’t sound like LeBron was excited to play with him anyway.”
Without a doubt, the fall of 2014 will be one of the most interesting in recent years. A shake up is precisely what the NBA needed, and this move is just about the biggest shake up one could ask for. The end of October can’t come fast enough.